The relative effectiveness of government and private schools in Pakistan: are girls worse off?
Recent evidence from Pakistan points to significant pro-male bias within households in the allocation of education expenditures. This raises two important questions. Is less spent on enrolled girls than boys through differential school-type choice for the two sexes; for example, through a greater likelihood of sending boys to fee-charging private schools? And, if indeed this is the case, are girls thereby condemned to lower quality schooling, on average, than boys? By asking these questions, this paper makes three contributions to the literature. Firstly, this is one of a very few studies in Pakistan to explore the question of the relative effectiveness of public and private schools despite there being an unpreedeconnted expansion of fee-charging private schools in the past two decades. Secondly, unlike existing papers that focus on primary schooling, this study looks at potential learning gaps by school type for students in their last year of middle school (Grade Eight), very near their transition to secondary schooling. Thirdly, it exploits unique, purposively-collected data from government and private school students, and thus, in estimating achievement production functions, is able to control for a number of variables typically 'unobserved' by researchers. The findings reveal that boys are indeed more likely to be sent to private schools than girls within the household, so that differential school-type choice is an important channel of differential treatment against girls. Private schools are also found to be of better quality - they are more effective than government schools in imparting mathematics and literacy skills. Girls lose out vis-a-vis boys in terms not only of lower within-household educational expenditures, but also in terms of the quality of schooling accessed.
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Volume (Year): 17 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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